In the first part of this post we looked at five different directions of light. In the second part we examined how a change in light direction can improve the image. In this part we look at ways to determine how to figure out the light source in a reference photo. Just a note: this attention to light will improve your paintings as well as help you select the best reference photo you can find.
We need a method to determine the light direction in our reference photo. Let’s look at several photographs and determine the light source.
1. Egret from pmp-art.com by Aschi
This photograph has beautiful interesting light.
2. Where is the Light?
Find the spots in the painting with the most light. See if you can figure out where the light source is that is causing these lightest places. (orange lines). You can draw on a copy of the photo.
3. Look at the Shadows
Next look at the shadows from the darkest to the lightest. If there is a single source of light the shadows will be opposite the lightest places. Find the darkest shadows.
In this photograph the light is from the right and below the feathers that are raised. There is a bit of backlighting for the forward upper feathers creating a very excitingly lit photograph.
If the photograph has changed the lighting to come from multiple directions you’ll find that out and then decide if that is the photo that you want to paint.
4. A Time for A Run by Susan 19 at pmp-art.com
Look at the light and the shadows.
5. These Shoes by Freda Austin Nichols pmp-art.com
In my opinion this painting would look better with out the bag/purse because it has soon much light that it steals the focus from the shiny shoes.
6. On Stage by Ian Worrell at pmp-art.com
I hope these examples have helped you observe, discover, and apply light in your paintings.
This is an except from Art Fundamentals at the Academy of Alcohol Ink (Online) coming soon at sherylwilliamsart.com